A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”
“As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”
The Lord has been dealing with us lately with such things as flexibility as opposed to rigidity. Especially in the midst of change. Now we have said for many years that the Lord deals with us (both individually and corporately) in “seasons”. Just like in nature there are seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter; so there are seasons in God’s dealings with us and also in his work. However, these “seasons” aren’t nearly as predictable as the natural ones! At least not for us. Obviously, God knows what is going on and planned these things from before time. But the problem is that our vision just isn’t that eternal yet! Our flesh, our natural man likes things that are predictable, revealed way in advance, and things that we are already comfortable with. But God just doesn’t operate that way when he is dealing with us. He operates in this completely “other”, eternal realm called faith.
We must remember that our God is a God of endless variety and beauty. Just a look at the natural world will show you that! Just take a look at all of the varieties of plants, animals, and people. And that’s just the visible creation on this planet alone! Even within the seasons there is variety and changes. What about the “unseasonable” weather we have all experienced? Even within the seasons that God takes us through there is variety.
Then there is the whole area of the timing of the Lord. We know that his timing is not our timing and his ways are not our ways. He does things his way and in his time! Most of us reading this post right now agree with and understand these things. But there is a huge problem.
We so quickly get settled, and even cemented, into the ways that we have been in or are in right now!
God is moving on and we are now stuck in the last movement or enlargement of God. You see, I am not here even referring to missing the Lord in his timing or ways. I am referring to getting “stuck” in the past (or current) situation that he himself took us through.
I find that the older I get the quicker I am to settle down into a comfort zone. It’s really quite remarkable. God is always moving us ahead in him. But many times (especially if we like the season) we will want to stay where we’re at.
This reminds me of the children of Israel wandering in the desert. God wanted them to take the promised Canaan land but they wandered around in a wilderness for forty years that only takes two weeks to cross! Of course, the manna is a classic example. God (for a season) fed them with the manna from heaven. It would daily come down to provide their food. However, they could not store it up for the future or even the next day! They needed to trust God for their daily bread every single day. Then, the time came when the manna was no longer being provided and now God was sending quail. But they were used to manna!
Outside the Box
Then there was our friend Peter. God wanted to include the Gentiles in his eternal purpose to have an expression of his Son on the earth (the Church). Actually, he always had included the gentiles, but most of the Jews could not see the true spiritual Israel that Paul writes about in the letter to the Galatians. Peter had to receive a dramatic rooftop vision to get the picture. Even then, he was refusing to rise up and eat those “unclean” animals. You see God was doing a new thing. At least it was new in the eyes of Peter. The apostle had always only thought within a very limited Jewish “box” and anything outside of that box was unthinkable.
But then there was our friend Paul! Now this guy was much more ingrained into the Jewish religion than Peter. He was a real Pharisee, a Hebrew of Hebrews, as to the righteousness found in the Law, completely blameless (Philippians 3). So you can see why God needed to knock him down and strike him with physical blindness in order that he would receive a vision! He had to see that the church he was persecuting was the actual Christ Himself! (see Acts 9) Saul was transformed into Paul and changed from a persecutor of the church to a master builder of the church.
In both of these examples (Peter and Paul) God had to break them out of their comfort zones in order for him to do something new. It wasn’t something either of them expected or ever considered.
The Main Point
The main takeaway of this post is simply this:
God doesn’t want us to follow “ways”, he wants us to follow the Way! Jesus Christ IS the Way. Brothers and sisters, don’t get stuck in ways of knowing Him or doing things for Him. Those “ways” will change and what worked today may not work tomorrow. That’s because the way of the Lord is Christ, Himself, the Person! Knowing Him and following Him and abiding Him is the key to every day and every work. The true Foundation is only Christ and He is to be everything in our lives. Not only individually but also corporately. That’s why seeking him is so important for every step along the way. Waiting upon him and not moving ahead of him is equally important.
Don’t be afraid of change
Don’t get stuck in a rut
Don’t get comfortable in past ways of doing things or systems of thought and procedure
Be flexible, be open
God’s change always brings about enlargement!
God’s new thing always brings in an abundance of Life!
Such a great word of exhortation to the church Milt. Lord, cause us to follow You, not Your ways.
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Radu Gavrilut said:
Thank You dear Brother
Radu Gavrilut said:
Thank You dear Brother! I am from Romania
Michael Abbott said:
Love your posts Milt.